Damien Leith was one of the myriad young singers launched to success via the international television phenomenon Pop Idol. Born January 18, 1976, in County Kildare, Ireland, Leith spent his childhood in locales as far-flung as Libya and Botswana, thanks to his father's work as an engineer. As a teen he and his siblings formed the band Leaf, later recording in New York City under the name Releaf. After marrying an Australian native, Leith relocated down under and fronted the band Revelate, which enjoyed a fervent fan following on the Sydney nightclub circuit.
Leith was working as a chemist when friends convinced him to audition for the fourth season of Network Ten's amateur showcase Australian Idol in 2006. Selected as one of 24 finalists from a pool of over 25,000 contestants, he won praise from the series judges for his distinctive falsetto, also accompanying himself on guitar for renditions of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Considered a dark-horse candidate by fans and handicappers, Leith ultimately triumphed against rival Jessica Mauboy in the November 26, 2006, final. At 30, he was the second-oldest competitor to claim victory on any of the global Idol franchises, trumped only by 31-year-old French champion Steeve Estatof.
Upon signing to Sony BMG, Leith issued his debut single, "Night of My Life," two days after the Australian Idol finale. The record debuted at number one and remained atop the Aussie charts for four weeks, setting the stage for the LP The Winner's Journey, which was certified quadruple platinum within two weeks of its release. In 2007 Leith released Where We Land, his first album free of the Australian Idol branding. The album debuted on the ARIA charts at number one, and quickly went gold. The following year the singer had his first misstep with Catch the Wind: Songs of a Generation, a collection of songs from the '60s and '70s featuring renditions of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and Cat Stevens' "Wild World." In 2009, Leith returned with his third studio effort, Remember June. ~ Jason Ankeny